Saturday, September 1, 2012

Labor Day 2012 - Thoughts & Reflections

"Work isn't to make money; you work to justify life. "
Marc Chagall

Labor Day paved the way for the protections we have in the work environment today, but what happened in the past that gave rise to the Unions and their power they enjoy now?

If you do a quick search on Labor Day, you'll find out what Labor Day means for Americans today: a symbolic end to the summer filled with parades, BBQs, and parties. Oh, and it's meant to pay tribute to the accomplishments of the American worker.

In today's headlines, Labor Unions have bargained for themselves (and workers) big fat pensions and benefits that most government agencies can't provide in this current economy. With most labor unions unwilling to compromise, some public agencies have been forced into bankruptcy to renegotiate the contracts. What's the right answer for today? Perhaps a quick look at the roots and inspiration of Labor Day can help give us a little guidance.

In the late 1880's, conditions for the American worker were pathetic. The average worker put in 12 hour days 7 days a week, and children as young as 5 and 6 toiled in the factory as well. They lacked fresh air, breaks, and clean bathroom facilities.

Workers began to form unions to protest their poor conditions. In 1882, workers marched in New York City in what's considered one of the earliest Labor Day parades. These parades fostered the idea of a workingmen's holiday and several states passed laws to recognize "Labor Day," but nothing occurred on the national level.

The back and forth between management and labor unions began. In May1894, workers of the Pullman Palace Car Company went on strike to protest their wages getting cut and their union reps being fired. The strike crippled railroad traffic throughout the nation. Federal troops were called in and riots broke out. More than a dozen people were killed.

The incident inspired Congress to make Labor Day a legal holiday on the national level. There was more compromise to be made, but today American workers enjoy 8 hour work days, clean restroom faculties, and breaks.

So are there lessons from the past that we can use in today's climate? I say the lesson is – have a willingness to come to the table and find meaningful compromise. It's not easy, but civil unrest is not a solution to anyone's problems. Just ask the Occupy movement.

This Labor Day celebrate the achievements obtained in the past, and remember the spirit of the holiday is more than just BBQs and parties. Labor Day's message is still relevant today as it was 100 years ago, the application just needs a modern approach.

Anyhoo…just some of my heavier reflections on the holiday. Does anyone want to add anything? What are your plans for the holiday?

I have the time off, but I need some inspiration. I want to do more than BBQ in the backyard. I might go hiking with my boys if the weather is good. Maybe we'll visit the fruit/veggie stands on the 126 heading out to Ventura. Believe it or not, I'm needing some inspiration.

My June 2012 Summer Short story is "Journey of the Heart."

Can James help Rachel save her winery or will he drift out of her life the same way he drifted in?

Opening Line: James hated wandering

4, 5 Star Reviews on Amazon
The story was compelling and not boring, which is often a stereotype of sweet romances. I would recommend this short sweetie of a story. Good job, author. - Angel E

"Your case threatened to run away, so I bribed it." Her sweet expression was an arrow through his heart.

"Really? What did you bribe it with?" He wiped the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief, caused from a combination of the summer heat and lifting the heavy cases.

"A job."

He hooked his thumb toward his chest. "Are you offering me a job, Miss Santori?"


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  1. Thanks Angela. Have a great Labor Day Weekend.

  2. Interesting post, Steph. We don't have any big plans as we're going away for a few days later next week. I think my husband's only plans consist of working his way through the football schedule! I'm sure you'll find something fun to do with the boys.

    Angela Britnell

  3. I like that bumper sticker: Like the 8-hour work week? Thank a union.

    Unfortunately today, with the anti-union feelings so strong, most people work more than 40 hours per week. I work 2 p/t jobs because I can't find one values English degrees anymore, since thinking is now passé.

    I will be working tomorrow, since one of my jobs is in retail. So no celebrating for me...too many bills to pay to have time to relax.

  4. Angela, I chuckle. Football will going into high gear here. I've even got tickets to see USC play on 20 OCT. We're all looking forward to it. hehe

    Fiona, thanks for popping in. I think Unions are a good thing, and certaintly we've got basic work protections because of them, but there is a strong anti-union feeling these days.

    I hope you find a little "me" time today - even if it's a couple of minutes to enjoy a tasty margerita.